April 2018

2nd – 8th April

Are Military Veterans with Mental Health Diagnoses at a Higher Risk of Dementia?

Researchers at the King’s Centre for Military Health Research have recently published a paper looking at the association between dementia, depression and PTSD in military veterans. Military veterans have previously been found to be at a higher risk of developing mental health disorders to that of the general public. Studies of civilian populations have also suggested an association between dementia likelihood and mental health diagnosis, but it is unknown whether this puts veterans at an increased risk for dementia. A systematic review of articles was conducted, with six studies identified as suitable for analyses. Results indicated that five studies demonstrated that veterans, with either PTSD or major depressive disorder, were at a greater risk for developing dementia. The researchers discuss possible theories that could be used to explain the association, such as the theory of inflammatory neurodegeneration and the brain reserve hypothesis, which both support the results. However, although the evidence here suggests a probable link between mental health conditions and dementia, in military veterans, it should be noted that a correlation does not determine causality and more information is required to determine whether other factors are at play before a formal link can be made between the conditions.

The article can be accessible online using the link here.

PTSD and reported Marital Functioning

Previous reports have noted that the PTSD symptoms, avoidance and emotional numbing, are the most strongly related to relationship difficulties. Hyperarousal symptoms have been less directly linked to relationship challenges but they may lead to high levels of anger and aggression. There may be an association between PTSD and marital problems such that PTSD increases the number of challenges in a relationship with this in turn causing worsening of PTSD symptoms. Researchers from the University of Colorado recently reported on the associations of PTSD symptom clusters and marital functioning in military couples. In total, 570 male service members and their wives, completed questionnaires relating to own or husband’s PTSD and marital satisfaction at 5 different time points over 2 years. Results indicated numbing was a significant factor leading to increased conflict in marriage and decreased bonding. Wives reported lower bonding with avoidance behaviour but the men thought this behaviour reduced conflict levels. When hyperarousal was reported as higher, the men perceived this as causing marital conflict but the wives surprisingly reported increased marital satisfaction. These findings can help guide couple-based interventions and help towards understanding the fluctuation of PTSD symptomology over time and how this impacts on the family. Wives may be able to better understand their partners and focus on developing strategies that are able to improve family functioning.

The article can be found by clicking here.

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